It is not every day that a spread turns it into songs of world hits. Vegemite was successful in this. “He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich,” says the band’s Australian anthem “Down Under”. The song is a declaration of love for the fifth continent and one of its most iconic foods. Because most “Australians” are very fond of the black-brown paste, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
Elsewhere, excitement causes confusion. Salty, salty and even slightly bitter, Vegemite settles in the mouth with its thick texture. Characteristic of the Red Continent such as Kangaroo, Outback or Kylie Minogue. Cyril Percy Callister developed Vegemite in 1922. The start wasn’t easy: When it first rolled off the assembly line, it was a complete flop. Even the head salesman could not stand the smell, let alone the taste.
Australians have only slowly discovered their love for the spread, which is today advertised with the slogan “Tastes like Australia”. The Fred Walker Company offered a free small jar of Vegemite with every processed cheese they sold. And since the 1930s also marked a global economic crisis in Australia, no food was wasted. Another advantage: Vegemite didn’t have to be refrigerated—and refrigerators only became popular “down under” in the 1950s.
Vegemite’s exact recipe is a closely guarded secret. One thing is certain: it is made from the yeast that remains after brewing beer. It contains malt, salt, botanical extracts and especially a large number of B vitamins.
By 1942, 20 years after its development, the product could be found in most Australian pantries. Today Australians also take their beloved Vegemite with them on vacation. Politicians also like to keep it in their luggage, such as the then Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on a 2011 visit to the USA. He then had to convince US security officials at the airport that dark paste was not dangerous goods.